The Road to Making and Keeping Positive Habits

I sometimes feel like I am the world’s biggest hypocrite. I speak about creating daily routines and reverse engineering our goals to create daily tasks to work towards, and yet, I don’t always practice what I preach. For example, content is key to marketing, and I advise clients to write, share or engage with value added content everyday to help build their personal visibility yet, the last time I wrote a blog before last was in 2016! Thus, this blog is set out to outline why habits are important, how we should approach creating habits, and what has worked for me in my mission to create and continue positive habits.  

Doing something everyday, or habitually, helps us dedicate less energy, time, and will power to completing it. Consequently, this helps increase time and energy for everything else we face. Moreover, positive habits increase overall productivity and energy levels. Thus, if you are like me and often heard saying “there is just not enough time in a day”, then positive habits are a worthwhile pursuit. 

It is a sad reality to accept that we all know what we should do everyday, for a better body, better relationships, better work or spiritual well-being, yet most, if not all of us don’t do what’s required on a regular basis. In trying to create positive habits for myself, I’ve come to appreciate that before we plan what we should be doing, we need to reflect internally to better know and/or accept ourselves. Understanding what motivates us, discourages us, and we are at greatest output during the day can help us plan habits we are more likely to keep.

I came to learn this principle of habit setting from, Gretchin Rubin, author of The Happiness Project and Better than Before, where in the latter book she studied human psychology in relation to setting habits. What she discovered is that there are 4 types of people in how they respond to expectations, both set by ourselves and others. While reading the book and reflecting, I easily identified myself as a ‘questioner’, and this helped me tremendously reevaluate how I planned my own habits. For years I tried every few months to wake earlier and run in the morning, and hated myself when I couldn’t keep it up, turns out I was lying to myself to think I am a morning person. Thus, though this part of habit setting can be the toughest, as we have to face ourselves and be honest, it in turn, will be the most instrumental to the success of keeping a habit going. 

At a further rudimentary level, everyone is moved to action based on two primary factors - fear and success. Personally, success moves me greater than fear, but this has helped me realize planning future goals, can help motivate me in my daily tasks towards them. In creating positive habits that help align with my future goals, I have began trying to implement new habits. Together, the following three practices have helped me along the way. 

Firstly, write it down. We are 80%+ more likely to complete a task if it’s written down. Every morning I have a book and I write out in bullet form what I want to accomplish for the day. Following, I take that list and take the top 3 and write them out on my whiteboard. I read recently that narrowing your task list to 3 or less has three positive effects: it increases the likelihood of completion as it's harder to rationalize lack of completion, it mentally affirms your priorities and increases your productivity as you feel confident when completed. The third crucial step for me is to block the time needed for each task in my calendar. I have used a calendar for work for years, however, I have started to put EVERYTHING in there. This helped not only with reminders, but psychologically it was a mental shift that helped me understand that my mind, body and soul are as important and deserves dedicated time each day as well. 

Another factor to consider when breaking or making a new habits are what Psychologist call  ‘anchors’.  Essentially, it means detaching or attaching a habit to another one. This is a great place to start, because if you already have habits in place, adding to them is easier that changing a routine completely. For example, adding flossing each morning to your teeth brushing habit. Twelve years ago, I started saying what I am grateful for before eating, as to help remind me many times a day I have reason to give thanks and now this practice is second nature. 

In my journey to break and make habits, I can honestly say, it hasn’t been easy. However, I have come to understand that we make and break habits all the time, without even knowing it. So rest assured it is possible and with the right intent a very beneficial endeavour.

The 3 Overarching Subjects, Every Marketer MUST Understand

When I tell people that I am in marketing - I am often met with a curious head tilt and follow-up questions. Why? Simply put, it’s a vague term. For me, the definition encompasses any action that is taken to bring your product or service to market. But, essentially we all marketers, whether you are marketing an idea to your wife, or promoting a multi-national brand. In my recent blog post I discussed the three life-cycles all companies must go through to successfully engage in marketing. But, after further consideration, I was curious what other subject matters come into play when doing so called ‘marketing’.

Turns out, I believe there are three underlying principles at the root of marketing: communications, sales, and human psychology. Those three fields are by no means mutually exclusive, but for the sake of this intro series, I will try to explain, define and highlight the important elements of each separately as it relates to marketing. Today, I am choosing to explore the field of communication, because how you tell your story today is more important than the story itself.

Even before communication can begin, you have to understand and define what your company story is?  Defining your company brand, is no easy task let alone communicating it correctly. Simon Sinek’s Golden Rule is a good place to start. Your story and brand needs to communicate the ‘why’ behind what you do. For example, Facebook is about a community and building relationships through sharing capabilities online, but technically it’s a mediocre software platform and somewhere to store large amounts of data. Long are the days that we market products on features, pricing and benefits. In today’s marketing world, you need to first, understand why you are doing what you do, who would identify with that, and shape a story around that belief. Only then, can we understand where and how to effectively share it.

Communicating a story has become quite the art form. Seth Godin articulates this point in his recent book - Marketers are all Liars. Essentially, you have communicate a story that others would share as their own, both in belief and around the kitchen table. In history, we shared stories of past lives and great historic battles because they helped our current existence by teaching us important lessons. Today, sharing a story is about resonating with others. No one in this day and age wants to be told, but rather feel they are being listened to, this is key.  

Once you know what you believe in, you have to understand who aligns with that and then choose the correct channels and communities to communicate with. A mass marketing approach is, or at least should be, a last planned resort. Why? Communities are shrinking in size, but they are growing in total number. There are more influencers and group leaders, than ever before and sadly, bloggers and teen pop stars can carry more weight in 2016 then news broadcasters. However, on a positive note we have more data than ever before to understand each of the million communities that exist and how they interconnect. If we look at youtube and video marketing alone, the trend is spearheaded by companies and personal figures that understood what questions their communities are asking and then helped deliver the answers. “How to” videos for products and recipes for food, indirectly sell the product in a way that is beneficial to the consumer. This leads to another important point - understand where your customer seeks information. To understand your buyers cycle, you can identify the best channels to reach them. Start simply by thinking what your clients are asking, and then figure out where they make ask, and begin communication where they need you first.

In summary, what you communicate should be the “why” and the belief behind how you can help a potential client. Who you communicate with should be based on understanding what audience will adopt and align with your belief. Where you communicate that message is based on where your potential clients are looking for help and or will engage with the message. I will end with a case example to show you the power of communicating, when it’s done right.

Case Study: Dawn Dish Detergent - Dawn Saves Wildlife - VIDEO

Brand Story - “Dawn helps save wildlife” In the past this item would be sold on price or effectiveness, whereas now they are appealing to our worldview and emotional side of helping animals.

Who they are communicating to: The story appeals to the demographic who makes this purchase, which is primarily women. Tugging on emotional heart strings and giving the impression that if we buy their detergent we are helping save animals.

How they are communicating: Creating a video to show how they are helping animals, using cute baby ducks appeals to the senses, and is more effective than if they wrote this story. In turn, the video doesn’t speak to how using the detergent can help you, but rather makes you feel good supporting a company that is saving wildlife. Thus, they have aligned with a worldview and deep rooted beliefs, a much more appealing argument than its cheaper or better than the competitors.

The Kind Group - How Can We Help?

Today’s marketing landscape can be an enigma and once you think you understand it - it changes! The Kind Group's mission is to educate, support, and supply custom marketing portfolios that help achieve the best results for our clients. Most importantly, we start with learning about your business, and your goals to provide marketing insight on what matters most to you.

Have you ever said or thought the following?

"I have no idea what my marketing dollars are paying for."

“My last marketing campaign didn't deliver the results I was expecting"

"I don't see the value in marketing online"

Sadly, I have been met with these sentiments all too often. However, it is from this experience that fuelled The Kind Group to offer a fresh approach. One that is custom to you.

Every business is different. With different needs, different goals and different service offerings.  We get that.  Learning about our clients business is what we love most. We believe in today’s fast paced environment that the impression you leave can be the difference between acquiring a new client or losing them. To help simplify matters, we’ve grouped all marketing efforts into three categories - Strategy, Branding, and Development, which we believe are all integral to producing results.

What makes a good marketing strategy? It starts by asking the right questions. You can’t make smart marketing choices in a vacuum. Creating a comprehensive strategy should begin with sophisticated data. However, in a world of big data, how to determine what data you should focus on and how data interplays with one another can be a complicated formula. For example, in the digital landscape, understanding your competitors and their strategy can greatly impact yours, and thus, can't be ignored. Moreover, due to ever-changing search engine best practices, we recommend doing a digital audit to ensure your work online to date is yielding you the best results possible. In my experience 90% of digital marketing can be improved. Strategy should also include reviewing data of your clientele, preferred audiences, search potential of keywords and phrases, and the basic supply and demand in the marketplace. Only once these elements are considered can you see the big picture, your opportunities, and then begin planning.

Why is branding important? I have to admit, when we started building The Kind Group, I underestimated what branding truly meant and how it can affect a company’s success. Simon Sinek’s ‘The Golden Rule’, is a helpful place to start, as we often overlook why we do something and focus on what we do. Your brand is the root of all marketing. It is also the one variable that should stay constant in a business’s life span. I speak to branding a lot in my LinkedIn Workshops, as many people are quick to say what they do, but leave out the why and how - which we believe are the two most important elements to any brand. From a marketers standpoint, gone are the days of prompting features and facts. As Seth Godin says "good marketers tell a story". We help you make sure your company’s story sticks with the right audience by understanding why you do what you do, and then creating a brand that delivers that impression and value.

How do you maintain your marketing strategy? Especially in this digital landscape, marketing is a constant effort. Since you are an expert in what you do, you may not be able to devote the time necessary for a strong marketing campaign in an ever-changing industry. As experts in marketing, what we can offer is the daily support needed to keep you ahead of your competition. Through thought leadership and marketing campaigns, we develop a road map based on your goals to ensure you stay top of mind, gain or sustain market share, and build brand valuation. To verify that your marketing spend is providing the strongest return, it is paramount that campaigns are measured and evaluated regularly - something that is too often overlooked.   

As Marketers, we should be Changing the Mantra from 'Always be Closing', to 'Always be helping'. - Jonathan Lister (LinkedIn)

Our philosophy is exactly that and we believe the only way to help is to understand. It is our job to help you understand marketing, the options available and together, what choices to make for the best results.  In order to do so, we provide you invaluable insights on your clients, your industry, your competition and how to leverage what you have done to date. Most importantly, we help you plant the seeds of your story and bring it to life. 

Types of Education - What every student should REALLY know

My whole life I thought good grades, attending reputedly schools and working hard would get me where I wanted to go. Yes, that can be important, but as I reflect on what I am going to tell business graduates next week at a Waterloo alumni event, I will not focus on what we all think equates to success, but rather what will help them stand out. When I am sitting with these eager, youthful students, I will stress the importance of these 3 things, of which don't include a fancy education. 

TWTR Stock: Jack Dorsey Revealed the #1 Reason to Be Bullish on Twitter

Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) is trading at $17.10, but Twitter stock has dropped more than 24% since the start of 2016. It is hardly a consolation to investors that TWTR stock was trading over $50.00 per share just last May in a year when the U.S. tech sector was one of the best performers. Within six months, Twitter stock has lost more than 60% of its value.